After failing in their effort to abort a gay partner registry from taking effect, a group of ministers in Cleveland say they are resolved to ending it.

Cleveland city leaders approved the registry at a Monday December 8 session by a 13-7 vote.

Cleveland's domestic partner registry allows gay and straight couples to seek recognition of their union from the city. Ohio passed one of the toughest gay marriage bans in the country four years ago; it prohibits both gay marriage and marriage-like unions. To ensure that the registry does not run afoul of the state's prohibition it lacks any force of law and guarantees no protections whatsoever. Any benefits given to couples would be strictly voluntary.

United Pastors in Mission, a group of mostly black ministers led by president Rev. C. Jay Matthews of the Mount Sinai Baptist Church and director Rev. Marvin McMickle of Antioch Baptist Church, at first attempted to stop the registry from taking effect, but failed to collect about 11,000 signatures before the January 5 deadline.

Last month, Cleveland NAACP President George Forbes, a highly regarded former Cleveland politician and civil rights lawyer, attempted to broker a solution.

“The registry is passed. It's not going to be undone,” he told Cleveland's gay biweekly the Gay People's Chronicle (, which has reported extensively on the registry.

Forbes met with Rev. C. Jay Matthews twice to discuss the issue. A January 27 meeting included the editorial board of the African-American weekly the Call and Post, of which Forbes is a member.

“I'm a civil rights lawyer and I realized that I had never had a gay or lesbian civil rights case, and it is because [in Ohio] there are no rights,” Forbes said.

The Cleveland NAACP passed a resolution in support of the partner registry. And the Call and Post printed an editorial backing the position.

“For over 90 years, this newspaper has been a champion of the downtrodden and those who civil rights have been attacked or violated. ... The Call and Post goes on record in supporting the domestic partner registry,” the paper wrote.

But neither have been able to mend fences with the ministers who repeated their vow to repeal the law. Matthews formed the Cleveland Coalition of Churches to campaign on the issue and has attracted out-of-state support, including the Alabama-based American Family Foundation.

The group says they will deliver the required 5,000 signatures by March to place a repeal before voters in the fall.

The ministers say they oppose the registry on religious grounds.

“That lifestyle goes against God,” Matthews told a Plain Dealer reporter.